Our Go-To Soft-Sided Cooler Costs Just 30 Bucks

Credit: CleverMade

If you’re still using cheap throwaway styrofoam coolers for the beach or tailgating because your other coolers are too big, too small, or too heavy — or too valuable to leave unattended around a bunch of strangers — try the soft-sided Snapbasket cooler by CleverMade.

We were a bit skeptical, so we asked CleverMade to send us a unit to test. And boy, we were impressed.

The Snapbasket ($30 at Amazon) gets its name from two clever plastic hinged pieces on each side that “snap” open to lock, stiffening up the sides and allowing it stand up on its own and stay open. This one little tweak gives the Snapbasket the edge over its floppy soft sided competitors. Push in the middle of the plastic lock and the cooler collapses and folds almost flat for storage under a seat or in your trunk.

We filled our test unit with 20 pounds of ice at 2:30 pm and sat it on a concrete floor inside a warehouse where the ambient temperature fluctuated between 74-78 degrees. 16 hours later, half of the ice in the Snapbasket was still frozen. Not a drop of H20 had leaked on the floor, and condensation was minimal. Considering the cost and convenience of the cooler, we’d call that top-notch performance.

The shape and sturdy feet on the Snapbasket make it hard — but not impossible — to tip over. If that happens, you’re going to get some leakage through the zipper, but that’s not a deal-breaker for us. Keep her level and upright and this baby holds her water just fine. The other feature we liked was the bottle opener built into the carrying straps, which means you never have to resort to cheesy bar tricks to open your beer again.

One suspicion that did turn out to be fact was the claim of capacity. CleverMade says the Snapbasket will hold 50 12-ounce cans, but if that were the case you wouldn’t have much room left for ice or food, which kind of defeats the purpose. 24 cans or bottles — maybe 36 if you're not toting any food — is a much more realistic goal.

So if you’ve been searching for that perfect portable ice chest for those times when you don’t want to lug around your heavy abominable snowman cooler and your wife won’t let you spend $200-300 on the smaller soft-sided version of that abominable snowman cooler, the Snapbasket is our first-round draft choice.

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